October 9, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Feds label Beatty as Kilpatrick's co-conspirator for first time

Christine Beatty was a witness in Kwame Kilpatrick's corruption case, but never received immunity for testifying, her attorney says. (Detroit News file photo)

Detroit — Federal prosecutors called former mayoral mistress Christine Beatty a co-conspirator of Kwame Kilpatrick on Wednesday, the first time the U.S. Attorney’s Office has attached a label to her in connection with the City Hall corruption case.

Beatty was never charged in the case and did not testify but was a recurring figure during a five-month trial that ended in guilty verdicts against Kilpatrick, contractor Bobby Ferguson and the ex-mayor’s father, Bernard.

In a court filing Wednesday, prosecutors said Kwame Kilpatrick deserves more time in prison because he orchestrated an extensive racketeering scheme as an elected public official.

“He was an elected and high-ranking public official, and he was also a leader of the criminal scheme, supervising and directing co-conspirators in both the private sector ... and the public sector (like Derrick Miller, Victor Mercado and Christine Beatty),” prosecutors wrote one day before Kilpatrick is to be sentenced in federal court.

On Wednesday, Beatty’s lawyer for the first time revealed that the former Kilpatrick chief of staff never received immunity from federal prosecutors in exchange for testifying in front of a federal grand jury.

Beatty testified in May 2011.

Her defense lawyer, Jeffrey Morganroth, said she testified as a witness, not as a target of the grand jury investigation.

“She was never charged and she was never immunized from the possibility of a charge,” Morganroth told The News. “There was nothing to charge her with.”

He had not seen the U.S. Attorney’s Office filing Wednesday that called Beatty a co-conspirator.

“She was never accused, labeled nor suggested as being a co-conspirator or having committed any wrongdoing in connection with a federal case,” Morganroth said.

Beatty’s name came up repeatedly during testimony in the corruption case.

“Her name came up at least twice during the trial, so our view of her has not changed, regardless of how she has been labeled,” said U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Gina Balaya. “The reference in the sentencing memo relates to Kwame’s role as a leader of organized criminal activity, and her role was relevant for calculating his sentence.”

Beatty’s half-sister, April Edgar, testified about Beatty signing Kilpatrick Civic Fund checks. In separate testimony, an IRS agent said Beatty traveled with the mayor to a Colorado resort in 2002 during a trip paid for by the nonprofit group. Beatty allegedly received more than $110,000 from the Civic Fund and signed checks for a host of personal expenses for the mayor and his family, according to testimony.

Beatty resigned in 2008 and agreed to pay $100,000 restitution as part of her plea to state criminal charges stemming from lies she and Kilpatrick told under oath during a whistle-blower trial.

Beatty made new headlines last week when Essence Magazine released an advance copy of a first-person essay written by Kilpatrick’s former chief of staff.

The article will be published today, the same day of Kilpatrick’s sentencing.

“I think that’s a coincidence,” Morganroth said, noting that Kilpatrick originally was scheduled to be sentenced last month.

“The timing for Christine Beatty was that it has taken all of this time for her to get to the point she could heal enough where she could reflect and speak out about some of the occurrences,” Morganroth said. “She’s been dealing with all of this for a long time and has gotten to the point she can comment and hopefully express some thoughts so other people don’t fall into the same traps.”

rsnell@detroitnews.com
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